Kathleen Parker

The Muslim-Danish cartoon controversy has provided an excellent teaching opportunity in which the West demonstrates to the Arab world how even insulting/silly/opportunistic/sycophantic speech is allowed expression in our world in the belief that Truth ultimately will prevail.

Exhibit A: Al Gore.

The former vice president spoke in Saudi Arabia last weekend at the 2006 Jeddah (not to be confused with Jihadist, though we're not sure why) Economic Forum, where he bashed the U.S. and made Kumbaya noises about all just-getting-along.

Which is fine. We'd all like to just get along, but could the Saudis go first?

Perhaps Gore, instead of slapping the U.S. for behaviors unbecoming a superpower, might have asked the Saudi monarchy to stop sponsoring terrorists. He might have asked them to stop funding Islamist schools that teach future terrorists that the U.S. is the Great Satan and that all Americans are infidels who need to be killed.

That would be a nice start to our keeping open channels of friendship and mutual understanding. On the other hand, it would probably be considered bad manners to bring up terrorism and that Wahhabi thing while a guest in the Host State. Better to bash the homeboys, who can be counted upon to resist the urge to behead people with whom they disagree.

Besides, Gore has every right to his opinion. We believe in that concept in the West. He also has every right to say that the U.S. committed terrible abuses against Arabs living in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks, even if it's not precisely true.

Terrible abuses? Gore apparently was referring to the detention of some 1,200 Arabs in the U.S. in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks. With a section of New York destroyed and the smell of burning human flesh still in the air, it seemed reasonable to try to prevent any more attacks.

I'm sure the government considered arresting as many elderly white women as possible, but opted for the politically risky alternative of detaining people of Arab descent whose papers didn't seem perfectly in order and who otherwise fit the description of the 9/11 attackers.

Some of those detained, regrettably, were held for a time without being charged or without speedy access to legal representation.

"This was unfortunate," Gore might have said, "and the U.S. doesn't countenance unfair treatment of any group. We hope in the future to operate more efficiently should the need, God forbid, arise again."

While he was sounding slightly presidential, Gore might have continued:

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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